On Monday, February 6, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict co-hosted a policy forum on “Peacemaking and Child Protection: New Guidance on the Rights and Needs of Children in Peace Processes,” together with the International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Permanent Mission of Estonia to the United Nations. The panelists included Ms. Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, H.E. Ambassador Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN and Ms. Eva Smets, Executive Director for Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. Ms. Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, IPI’s Senior Policy Analyst, moderated the forum.
Many efforts to resolve conflict overlook the rights and needs of affected children. A Watchlist study of 431 relevant documents from the UN’s Department of Political Affairs Peacekeeping Database revealed that between 1999 and 2015, only 75 documents included references to child protection. To address this gap, Watchlist, together with professionals from both the child protection and mediation communities, developed the Checklist for drafting children and armed conflict provisions in peace agreements, which has been made available to the public via the UN Peacemaker Database web-based Mediation Library.
At the policy forum, speakers discussed the checklist and how it could help ensure that future peace agreements include relevant, context-specific child protection provisions. Drawing on specific examples of peace talks, such as the recent negotiations in Colombia, or negotiations in Kosovo, panelists considered how mediators and envoys could better integrate children and armed conflict concerns in peacemaking.
A video of the event, as well as an interview with the panelists, can be consulted on IPI’s website.